Highway near Boyertown renamed in honor Gen. Carl Spaatz, sculpture unveiled

On left, sculptor Jerry McKenna helps unveil his bronze sculpture of Gen. Carl Spaatz. Katharine Gresham and Ruth Thomas, Spaatz’s granddaughters, right, admire the work as it is revealed publicly for the first time.
On left, sculptor Jerry McKenna helps unveil his bronze sculpture of Gen. Carl Spaatz. Katharine Gresham and Ruth Thomas, Spaatz’s granddaughters, right, admire the work as it is revealed publicly for the first time. Marian Dennis– Digital First Media
Ruth Thomas and Katharine Gresham, granddaughters of General Carl Spaatz, tear off the covering of the new sign designating a portion of Route 562 as the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Memorial Highway.
Ruth Thomas and Katharine Gresham, granddaughters of General Carl Spaatz, tear off the covering of the new sign designating a portion of Route 562 as the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Memorial Highway. Marian Dennis– Digital First Media

BOYERTOWN >> “You’ll see if you come up close and look into his eyes, you see him and that’s what you want a statue to be.”

Katharine Gresham had those words to say on Thursday night during an unveiling ceremony celebrating a new bronze bust honoring her grandfather, Gen. Carl “Tooey” Spaatz.

The unveiling followed another brief ceremony that was held outside the Boyertown Inn earlier that evening. That event unveiled a new street sign renaming a portion of Route 562 from the intersection with Route 73 in the borough of Boyertown to the intersection with Route 662 at the township line between Amity Township and Oley Township as the Gen. Carl A. Spaatz Memorial Highway.

“I want to thank you for allowing me to participate in what I would characterize as a long overdue, significant event of recognition for a man that many of us in uniform know of but it’s way past the time for everyone else in the country to come to know what he stood for and what he did,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Regan.

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Born in Boyertown on June 28, 1891, Carl Spaatz was the first to serve as Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force. During World War II, Spaatz commanded the Allied air campaign against the Nazis. In the Pacific Theater, the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place under his command. After retiring from the Air Force, Gen. Spaatz served as the first chairman of the Civil Air Patrol National Board. He was the only U.S. military general to witness both the German and Japanese surrenders.

On Thursday evening, the ceremony unveiling the new sign for General Carl A. Spaatz Memorial Highway began with a presentation of the colors by the CAP Color Guard and was followed by remarks by several guests and moderator, state Rep. David Maloney. Once the new sign was officially revealed, guests were invited to the State Theater for the official unveiling of a new bronze bust of Spaatz, created by sculptor Jerry McKenna.

The second ceremony inside the theater included performances by the Boyertown Alumni Ceremonial Band as well as a short film showing bits and pieces of Spaatz’s life. In an unplanned moment, Ruth Thomas, another of Spaatz’s grandchildren, presented the Boyertown Historical Society with Spaatz’s mother’s wedding ring to add to their collection.

“This is his mother’s wedding ring. It has been sitting in a drawer forever and what better than for this ring to come home to Boyertown,” said Thomas as she handed over the ring.

Following remarks from guests including Sen. Bob Mensch, Carl Spaatz re-enactor Chris Boswell and Berks County Commissioner Christian Leinbach the new bronze statue was ready to be revealed.

“I’ve always been asked ‘what’s my favorite sculpture?’ And I’m always cute about it and say, ‘What’s your favorite finger’ or ‘Who’s your favorite child?’ But I’ve confessed to Gale, that my favorite sculpture is this one,” said McKenna.

The bronze sculpture will be displayed at the Boyertown Historical Society.